HP Breakthrough Gives More Power to PC

"Memristors" could power an entirely new class of integrated circuits

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There was big news coming out of HP Thursday that could translate into faster and more powerful computers.  The invention is called a memristor.  It is a new electric circuit.

    HP makes it sound like half Bionic Man and half HAL from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.   "Memristor can also perform its own logic," to quote HP.  They also say it to better, stronger and faster computers.

    Though the "memristor" has existed in theory since 1971 thanks to University of California, Berkeley professor Leon Chua, it wasn't until 2008 that one was successfully produced by Hewlett-Packard's research arm, HP Labs.

    Thought to herald a new era in memory storage for computers that was faster and more reliable than flash memory, HP Labs says that in fact they are even more powerful, able to also accomplish logic tasks like current transistor-based chips as well.

    The memristor, short for "memory resistor, is similar to a transistor, in that it can respond to changes in electrical current, but is closer to fundamental circuit elements such as capacitors, resistors and inductors. However, it differs in that it can "remember" its state when not powered.

    As part of an integrated circuit or "microchip", it could revolutionize the design and function of electronics and digital devices.

    For instance, computer memory built from memristors use less power, are faster and take up half as much space as existing technology, meaning mobile devices could continue to get smaller, more powerful and enjoy longer battery life all at the same time.

    It also has serious implications for artificial intelligence and other computing applications, promising the possibility of machines that can learn and process information more like the human brain.

    HP suggests that products featuring the new technology could be on shelves in only a few years.

    Jackson West actually couldn't be more excited.